In the last two years, the Richard Murphy Hospice House Foundation has been through much more than any of its board members would have ever expected. After canceling the 2020 Gala due to the pandemic, they have also had to postpone this year’s 39th Gala four times due to the untimely Hurricane Ida.
With careful consideration and the help of a class of Southeastern students, the foundation intends to paint the town once again with a Pirates of the Caribbean themed Gala on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.
Liaison for the foundation, Laura Dimattia teaches the Comm 466: Special Event Planning class where she has guided her students in offering their help with digital media, content creation, silent auction item acquisition, restaurant collaboration, project management and decorations for the Gala.
She explained how her first two strategic plans for the event pre-Ida got changed due to the damages restaurants that usually cater to the Gala had received.
“We are now on our third strategic plan for this project and my Students have adapted and rolled with the changes, like professionals,” said Dimattia. “I’m constantly amazed with their creativity, solutions-focused approach to problems and their commitment to making this the best Gala ever!”
The instructor also stated that the work done for the planning and production of the Gala is all going towards their final grade in the class.
Assignments include things such as TikTok content creation, website design, blog writing, public relations and more. All students must also earn their Google Analytics and Hubspot Certifications before officially attending the event to turn in a completed event portfolio as a final.
Jodee McWilliams Hoover, Executive Director of the Richard Murphy Hospice Foundation, expressed how important it is for the Gala to receive help from the class and the community in order to keep the foundation at its best.
“The Gala is very vital because we are a nonprofit, 501-C 3,” she said. “We don’t receive ANY money from the federal or state government or any kind of medical reimbursement. This is why when we didn’t have the event in 2020 it impacted us deeply.”
The 2020 Fire-and-Ice-themed Gala was the first ever to be canceled and it left the organization and residents in shock, but Hoover confirmed that the board felt it was what was best for the community.
The students this event planning class have adjusted with every blow that the Gala has received and are even more excited to see the outcome after all their hard work.
Avery Meyers, a senior and student in the class, has contributed to the gala as a photographer, makeup artist and TikTok content creator for advertisement of the event.
“This class has taught me so many lessons," she said. "I love that we are able to truly work hands-on and get real-world experience. I have never had a class like this before, but getting out of my comfort zone has taught me that I actually enjoy event planning.”
Other students like mass communication senior Yaminah Addison have been tasked with graphic design, creating fliers and advertisement for different locations.
Addison expressed how she is excited for the Gala not only because she has never been to one but also because all the work is for a good cause.
As of November, the 2021 Richard Murphy Hospice Foundation Gala is still scheduled for 7 p.m., December 4th at Chappapeela Sports Park. The foundation encourages anyone who would like to sponsor, donate or volunteer for the event to visit their website at https://www.richardmurphyhospice.com/ or call 985-340-0860.